Student-athlete says racial slurs from other team left him banned from playing sports

Student's family files lawsuit against state's high school athletic board

By Trent Kelly - Reporter

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - A South Florida high school student has been banned from playing sports after two incidents on the lacrosse field.

But he said it all stems from racial slurs hurled at him from students at another school, and now this ban could cost him a scholarship.

"That's my future, my college future, for playing sports if I want to play sports," Luther Johnson V. said.

The incident in question occurred earlier this year during a lacrosse game as Johnson, 17, was returning to the field from a previous suspension for what was determined to be an unsportsman-like play during a game between his school and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The incoming senior at the private Christopher Columbus High School in Miami was sidelined from all sports for the rest of the year after the second incident occurred weeks later during a game against Belen Jesuit Preparatory School.

The decision to suspend him from playing was upheld by the state's high school athletic board last month.

"Putting him back out there and stopping the board from doing what it did is in the public interest," his attorney, Rawsi Williams, told reporters Friday.

Johnson's attorney announced Friday that the family is fighting back, filing a lawsuit in civil court against the Florida High School Athletic Association, alleging their decision was unfair and racially motivated.

"Luther was playing against Marjory Stoneman Douglas (High School). He is not only the only African American kid on his team. There, he was the only black kid in the whole game," Williams said. 

Johnson and his attorney said the other players from Stoneman Douglas were using racially-charged language and making death threats in the moments leading up to the plays in question.

The suit seeks to have the season-long football and half-season-long lacrosse ban lifted, allowing Johnson to play.

"I want to see myself step back on the field," Johnson said. "But for my mother, it's a hard time, because she has to sit here and go through all this too."

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